Sustainability: Some Depressing Comments

by Alton C. Thompson

“Sustainability” has been defined as “the endurance of systems and processes.”  From a human societal standpoint, a sustainable society is one characterized by (a) characteristics and (b) activities such that the society has a high probability of continuing in existence—in the absence of external factors, whether “natural” (such as volcanic activity) or of a human origin (e.g., such as the bombing of Iraq).

As suggested above, a given society does not necessarily have control over its future—even if the society’s characteristics and the activities of its members tend toward sustainability.  However, it is only useful to discuss sustainability in the “normal,” rather than exceptional, case, and I do so below.

What prompts this discussion is the fact that this morning (March 5, 2015) a friend called me just before 8:00 this morning to alert me to a conference taking place that day in downtown Milwaukee.  The title of the conference was Sovereignty and Survival:  Climate, Energy, Water, Food, Health, the 12th Annual Sustainability Summit and Exposition.  (The 2015 program is described here.)  George Stone, an Instructor of Natural Science at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC)—and a dynamic speaker—founded the Sustainability Summit, and was the organizer of the conference.  (My friend became aware of the conference by virtue of being a part-time student at MATC presently.)

We arrived at the conference after the “Fresh Water:  Life’s Fundamental Requirement” session had already started, then attended the “Sustainable Food Supply and Public Health” and  “Education for a Sustainable Future” sessions and, in the early afternoon, a “breakout” session, “Clean Transportation Solutions, Part II.”

The presenters included the dean of the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences; a Faculty of Law individual from University College Cork; the Vice President of Studies at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs; a producer of a local radio program (“Lake Effect”) on Milwaukee public radio; a professor for the Department of Medicine and Public Health at the UW-Madison; the National NAACP Director of Environmental and Climate Justice; the founding dean of the Zilber School of Public Health at the UW-Milwaukee; the president of a technical college in LaCrosse, Wisconsin; the president of U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development (another dynamic speaker); actor-activist Ed Begley, Jr.; the provost  of UW-Milwaukee; the president of MATC; the president of Marquette University; the executive director of Wisconsin Clean Cities; a City of Milwaukee Alderman; the fleet operations manager for the City of Milwaukee; and an MATC instructor.  Will Allen, of Growing Power, had been scheduled to speak during the “Sustainable Food Supply and Public Health” session, but was unable to attend that day (he had presented the previous day).

An impressive group, right?

Perhaps, but the presentations themselves left much to be desired.  A primary problem with the presentations is that if any of the presenters that I heard had a clear concept of what “sustainability” means in concrete terms, none made it known to the audience.  The tacit assumption with each speaker seemed to be that the meaning of sustainability is obvious, so that there was no need to waste time offering the author’s concept of the word.

Given that I offered a brief definition of the word at the beginning of this essay, I feel no need to elaborate on that meaning here.  However, I perceive two important questions regarding sustainability, and none of the presenters even seemed aware that these questions exist!  They are:

  • Under what conditions would sustainability be possible for a given society (assuming the absence of external factors, such as volcanic activity)?


  • Can any society achieve sustainability today?

Because I wish to keep this essay short, I will not provide answers to these questions here—except to assert that sustainability is not possible today!  Which fact, of course, makes the conference that I attended today rather pointless!  The reason sustainability is not possible today—for any society on earth!—is that we humans, led by the United States and other Western (“civilized”!) societies, have so changed earth’s atmosphere, through our burning of fossil fuels and deforestation activities, that we have crossed a point of no return.  As David Wasdell has stated regarding the Arctic (p. 14):

we saw the temperature change going exponential.  We saw the rate of change of ice area accelerating.  We saw the change in ice mass or thickness also accelerating and moving towards zero over the next two or three years.  Taken all together we recognise the unmistakable footprint or signature of a system in self amplification or runaway behaviour.  It is already feeding on itself, with the water-vapour feedback, the ice-albedo feedback and other factors all combining to amplify the effects of the carbon dioxide trigger which set off the dynamics in the Arctic.  In a sense, the human trigger is now almost irrelevant.  The feedbacks have taken over.  So that is what we mean by “runaway” in the Arctic System.

Note in particular these two sentences:  “In a sense, the human trigger is now almost irrelevant.  The feedbacks have taken over.”  Now if the “feedbacks have taken over,” the strong implication is that Earth System is now out of our control.  Some will argue that geo-engineering measures have the capability of countering what we have done, but not only does that seem (a) highly unlikely, but (b) the implementation of such measures could very well result in effects opposite of what we intend, thereby proving catastrophic!

Some might agree with the above two points, but argue that the Arctic is not, e.g., the United States.  That’s true, of course, but it ignores the highly important fact that the Arctic is our “canary in the coal mine.”  It is warning us about our future as humans—but, unfortunately, warning us at a point in time when it is now too late to undo the damage that we have done to the atmosphere.

And to ourselves, of course.  Meaning, of course, that—as Guy McPherson has said so wisely—“only love remains.”


One would think that at least some of those present at the conference would have been aware of two important facts, and their implications:

  • 55 million years ago the atmosphere increased about 5° C in about 13 years! This proves that the atmosphere can change very rapidly—can, in fact, increase rapidly to a level such that human life cannot exist!


  • The melting of ice and snow that is occurring in the far north (Arctic and Siberia) is resulting in the release of methane—a far more potent greenhouse gas that carbon dioxide—and this release could become explosive. What that means is that at some point in the near future the atmospheric temperature could increase—and rapidly—to a level where human life (and much other life as well, of course) would be   In fact, I would go so far as to declare this a certainty!

Why were those attending this conference—and the presenters in particular—not aware of these two points?  (From what they said, it’s obvious that none of the presenters “had a clue” about this!)  I would suggest two reasons, neither of which is a cause for optimism!:

  • All were professionals, and as such each had certain tasks associated with his or her job. Those tasks were not so much ones chosen by the person engaging in them but, rather, associated with the position being occupied.  In being, in effect, a “slave” to one’s position one had neither the time nor inclination to acquire the sort of knowledge that would enable one to “think outside the box” in which one was imprisoned.


  • In being a professional, one would be enabled to have a middle-class or even upper-middle-class lifestyle, and one’s unconscious mind would be diverting one’s attention from the reality of the threat currently facing us humans—something too fantastic to entertain as true.

“Theoretically,” if our “leaders”—in the United States and other Western countries—had acted appropriately and decisively  30 – 40 years ago, our current “date with destiny” (i.e., our extinction as a species) would not exist.  However, given that the factors that control those “leaders” now also controlled them 30 – 40 years ago, it’s as unlikely that they would have so acted then; and even if they would “wake up” now, it’s too late now to undertake the sorts of actions that would “save” our species.


I’m traveling, and will be less available than usual. Please display patience when waiting for comments to be posted. Also, please don’t leave comments that suggest you’re an unkind person. It only makes you seem like an ass.

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6-30 April 2015, western Europe (additional details forthcoming, and follow the tour at and also on Facebook)

25 April 2015, 6:00 p.m., Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London, “Climate Awareness Seminar”

European tour spring 2015

McPherson’s latest book is co-authored by Carolyn Baker. Extinction Dialogs: How to Live with Death in Mind is available. Electronic copy is available here from Amazon.


Tech note, courtesy of mo flow: Random issues have been appearing with posting comments. Sometimes a “Submit Comment” click will return a 404 Page Not Found, or another error, for no apparent reason. To ensure you don’t lose a longer comment, you can right-click select all, and right-click copy, in the comment box before clicking “Submit.” If that hasn’t been done, the comment text will likely still be in the comment box when clicking the back button, or the forward button — depending on the error — on your browser.

Comments 55

  • The weakening summer circulation in the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes


    … Here we report significant weakening of summer circulation detected in three key dynamical quantities: (i) the zonal-mean zonal wind, (ii) the eddy kinetic energy (EKE) and (iii) the amplitude of fast-moving Rossby waves. Weakening of the zonal wind is explained by a reduction in poleward temperature gradient. Changes in Rossby waves and EKE are consistent with regression analyses of climate model projections and changes over the seasonal cycle.

    *Monthly heat extremes are associated with low EKE and thus the observed weakening might have contributed to more persistent heat waves in recent summers.*

  • How Climate Change May Alter Forests Worldwide

    …From a tree’s perspective, excessive heat may be as deadly as lack of water. To photosynthesize, a tree opens pores in its leaves called stomata and inhales CO2. Solar-charged chemical reactions then transform the CO2 into carbohydrates — the raw stuff of leaves and wood. During this process, a fraction of the tree’s internal water supply evaporates through its stomata, creating the negative pressure that pulls water from the soil into the tree’s roots, through its trunk and up to its canopy. But heat juices the rate at which trees lose moisture, and that rate escalates exponentially with temperature — so small temperature increases can cause a photosynthesizing tree to lose dangerous amounts of water. “Forests notice even a one-degree increase in temperature,” says Williams.

  • “The word sustainable – the ‘Praise, Jesus!’ of the eco-earnest – serves as an example of the worst tendencies of the alternative culture. It’s a word that perfectly meshes corporate marketers’ carefully calculated upswell of green sentiment with the relentless denial of the privileged. It’s a word I can barely stand because it has been so exsanguinated by cheerleaders for a technotopic, consumer kingdom come. To doubt the vague promise now firmly embedded in the word – that we can have cars, our corporations, our consumption, and our planet too – is both treason and heresy to the emotional well being of most progressives.”
    -Lierre Keith

  • Good observations on the conference Alton – and thanks for pointing out the glaring assumptions regarding sustainability [the term seems to be an oxymoron now]. It’s pretty obvious that all engagements such as this are mere cheer leading for a fictional agenda. If the title of it doesn’t suggest, like a home-show expo, the featuring of products and services available to the cognoscenti and attendees, the fact that there have been 11 of them before this that have had no effect on the downward trend should clue people in to the ruse.

    i’m over my limit for today, but wanted to thank you for your essay.

  • “Sustainable” is a weasel word for “keep going the way we are going”. What we needed to do thousands of years ago was maintain the regenerative cultures of the day. None of us have a regenerative way of being.

    Lets get real. Going “renewable energy” (that is just as weasely a term as sustainable), light rail etc. . .. starting 40 years ago was never going to work either. The biosphere can’t survive any form of industrial civilization.

    Taking a long view of our species, there is no other species whom is so hypercompetitive, fractured and confused over who it is and what its place in the Community of Life is. There is no way such a species can reform itself to avoid extinction.

  • In a previous thread
    oldgrowthforest says: “Gestalt.”

    Can’t Remember Them All

    It’s harder to list every fault
    Combined in extinction’s assault
    Than to stop the denying,
    Admit that we’re dying,
    And dig the whole doomer Gestalt.

    BTW, Fritz was alluding to Eric Berne’s contemporaneous “Games People Play” transactional format of procedures, rituals, pastimes, and games when he said small talk was chicken shit, philosophy was bullshit, and (humorously self-deprecating, but he knew it really was) Gestalt Therapy was elephant shit. (Iirc, his early versions had a fourth level, horse shit, just above chicken shit.)

  • Alton: Yes!

    I have recently completed an ‘Information and comment’ to NPDC, outlining the facts that:

    1. NPDC continuously breaches government statutes (and ‘nobody; cares).

    2. That council officers misuse words or use words they do not know the meaning of.

    3. That council officers involved in planning have a well-documented record of doing no research into matters affecting present conditions and the future, and continue to churn out hogwash, despite having been provided with the best information and analysis on numerous occasions over a period of many years.

    4. That NPDC is the prime agent in the destruction of the district.

    5. That we have no confidence in NPDC policies or procedures, and that so-called community leaders have no credibility whatsoever.

    6. That NPDC is primarily an agent of money-lenders, corporations and opportunists, and will continue to sacrifice the [long-term] needs of the next generation to the short-term wants of the former.

    Etc,. etc., etc,: ….. 25 pages of indictment of the politics of failure that have been practiced both locally and nationally in New Zealand.

    I also question for how much longer truth-tellers will be able to speak the truth publicly in NZ, given that the Key government is becoming increasingly fascistic in its defence of the wants of the ‘0.1%’, and that John Key is very much in favour of the US model of governance, whereby anyone who opposes corporate looting-and-polluting of the commons ‘gets annihilated’.

  • Loss of control, helplessness is such an undesirable state that it will drive all forms of insane ideas into practice. Just around the corner is hopelessness, despair and that is unthinkable.
    Knowing what we know , it seems obvious why so many people feel the need to avoid that reality as long as possible. Bad ideas will seem better than no ideas.
    “You know it don’t come easy” to pay the price of admission. Most want to sing the blues for free.

  • My definition of human sustainability is the ability to survive for several tens of thousands of years without rendering their environment uninhabitable, either for themselves or any keystone species.

    My assessment of sustainable human numbers, under the implicit assumption of a steady-state environment is under 10 million people living at H-G levels of energy dissipation.

    Which is a moot point because:

    a) it’s too late to do anything about it now anyway;
    b) even if it wasn’t too late, there’s no way I can see to make the arrow of human development fly backwards; and
    c) intelligence is a lethal mutation to begin with.

  • Paul says, “c) intelligence is a lethal mutation to begin with.” Absolutely, I agree wholeheartedly. We have used higher levels of thinking to baffle ourselves with bullshit while equating the products of reason and technology with the Holy Grail of success. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth.

    But, along with the above came another possible tragic mutation, most likely culturally induced, a mutation that has literally ‘screwed us all out of a place at the dinner table’. The other mutation that, along with the above, created a double whammy, is our hyperobsessive-sex drive! Especially in males. It seems that’s another way were set apart from the rest of the Animal Kingdom, all of us are horny almost all our lives! I certainly can’t prove it, but it seems like it could be another devastating culturally induced mutation. Just another good source of dark humor! LOL! (Now, Kirk the Old Fart, gets to go volunteer in a booth at the St. Paul’s Catholic School festival and oggle as the young fillies go stepping by! BTW, I’m not a conventional Catholic anymore. I converted to christanity. That’s why I’m wearing my Archbishop Romero tshirt tonight. Should fit it good around the beer truck, eh!

    Great piece of writing, Alton! In fact I enjoyed all the related posts so far. Keep up the good work, my friends!

  • Very astute observations Alton.

    Sustainability is one of those onion layer realities.

    It goes deep and too the core of even time and space (On The Origin and Future of Nomads).

    It does not go without saying, on this planet anyway, that sustainability depends on where one is (You Are Here).

    I am reminded lately, when reading about the concepts of academics, of the old hippie exclamations “where is that at?” “where are you at man?” and “where is that at?”

    And, to your points about professionals at the conference, remember that it takes experts to destroy a global climate system.

  • Kirk, my own view is that the basic cause of so many of our problems is the Agricultural Revolution of 10,000 years ago. One of my favorite writers, the late Paul Shepard, wrote a wonderful book that you might find of interest, Coming Home to the Pleistocene. Also, thanks for your complimentary comments!

  • The agricultural revolution,Yes.And Industrial agriculture has added another layer of long term unsustainablity onto that.The industrial agricultural system which feeds us all has four fundamental flaws .
    First,there is the massive problem of soil erosion.The informed estimates of annual soil erosion worldwide on the cultivated and grazing land is around 26 billion tons. The informed estimates of the annual rate of soil formation on that same area is around 2.5 billion tons .Another time bomb in plain sight.
    2.The energy underpinning the system is from fossil fuels.Industrial agriculture has been accurately described as a system for turning oil into food.For every energy unit of food consumed,ten units of fossil fuels are used in the production,processing and transporting of that food.See’Food,energy and society ‘by David Pimental.
    3 Without the Haber-Bosch process,which supplies the ‘fixed’ nitrogen necessary for industrial agriculture,the maximum population that could be supported on the land area now under cultivation is around 3 billion.
    This process would be one of the most unfortunate developments our intelligence has ever developed.It has allowed our population to balloon,and the disruption of the natural nitrogen cycle has led to other problems,eutrophication of rivers and ocean dead zones from excess nitrogen (and phosphorous) entering those systems,for example.
    It is very energy intensive,and is dependent on fossil fuels.
    See ‘Enriching the Earth’ by Vaclav Smil’
    4.Other nutrients necessary for industrial agriculture (Phosphorous is the one in shortest supply) are supplied by mining,and are a finite resource. Cities and towns which flush waste out to sea have changed the nutrient cycle into a linear system. In geological terms they still cycle,but in the shorter term they are lost to ocean sediment.
    See’Feed or Feedback’ by Duncan Brown.

  • Sustainable is by definition exponential even if only a small exponent. Unless you mean what some refer to as “steady state” which I see as another term for comatose which hardly seems something to be desired.

  • Five fundamental flaws.
    5.Dependence on fossil water.Many of the aquifers supplying water to industrial agriculture are being drawn down at rates far greater than the rate of water entering those aquifers.Water shortages for agriculture and other use will be an increasingly serious problem.
    See’When the Rivers run Dry’ by Fred Pearce, ‘Water’ by Solomon, etc..

  • Hello again Guy:

    I have just had a conversation with a manager at the now closing San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in California. I asked what would happen if all humans suddenly disappeared and the reactors were left running. The answer was that they have been designed to shut down SAFELY without posing a risk to the public.

    In your videos , you have been saying that there are 400 or so Nuclear powerplants that would go Fukushima at the “Collapse of Industrial Civilization”. I believe this is an erroneous statement and should be looked into so that your credibility is not called into question. I like your teaching and would love to see you in person. I hope I can be of service to you by helping fact check some of your statements.


    John L.

  • Just even reading the comments on Climate Change articles on makes me livid. Most of Humanity is ignorant and hateful. Best we all be gone soon. I only lament the other life forms we’re taking with us….

  • Guy,

    Maybe? Only Love AND Music Remain.

  • John Lynch Says: “The answer was that they have been designed to shut down SAFELY without posing a risk to the public.”

    Clearly you can stop producing electricity.
    to do that you separate the fuel rods so that they don’t irradiate each other and warm each other up.
    However, even when they’re separated, they still produce heat.
    quite a lot of heat.
    You cannot stop that.
    You have to cool them constantly for thousands of years.
    Yes, thousands of years.

    That happens at every nuclear plant.
    there is always a spent fuel rod pool that contains some generations of rods that no longer produce the maximum amount of heat needed to power the generators.
    But, they still produce lots of heat.
    If you don’t cool them, they’ll continue to get hotter and hotter, until the metal melts and you form a pool of uranium at the low spot.
    When you do that, you risk a nuclear explosion larger than the biggest fission bomb ever made.
    Nuclear plants contain much larger quantities of uranium than bombs ever did.

    Japan isn’t “keeping it going”.
    The pumps that provide cooling water were swamped in salt water during the tsunami and no longer work.
    They are unable to pump cold water on the spent fuel rods, or into the reactors.
    With no water, what ever water was left will boil away and then the fuel rods will heat up until they melt.
    That’s the problem they’re fighting.
    And, they’re fighting it in an environment in which, if you walk up to the thing, you get a dose of radiation large enough to kill you in a few minutes.

    At the moment, there are only bad outcomes.
    There aren’t really any good ones.

    Credit Linlyons

  • Based on Guy’s valuable mantra that “Only love remains”, some people appear to believe that “Debate about what love is wastes time. Find it now, do it now without any limits. Only love remains.” I don’t have any concerns about debating a lot about what love is, which debates have gone on for millennia. My concerns lie with learning about how best to love fairly effectively and reliably. The ninety-something percent of intentional communities and other groups that split up within a year or two, the extremely high divorce rate, the extremely high incidence of domestic abuse, often with spouse killings, and the additional extremely high percentage of people who remain married but miserable, along with many social problems that people commonly have, and the extremely low success rate of marriage therapy historically (near zero effectiveness)—all of which will surely become far bigger problems as collapse-related stresses increase—suggest to me pretty clearly that people have not known how to love each other effectively. Certainly, the nature of much of the commenting that has occurred here at NBL among people most aware of the high probability of NTHE tends to confirm these points. Best evidence, based on psychology, anthropology, sociology, archaeology, and neuroscience, suggests that these tragic, attachment-related problems have occurred in all human cultures throughout all of human history (some cultures worse than others, for sure).

    All of the romantic songs and poems notwithstanding, and all of the authority-based popular psychology notwithstanding, until the revolutionary work of John Gottman, Susan Johnson, and colleagues, we have not understood what makes love work between people. I don’t see learning about the work of Gottman, Johnson, and colleagues, as a waste of time at all, but instead an extremely relevant, timely, and critically valuable resource that I want to learn as much as possible about as soon as possible, implement to the greatest extent possible in my own relationships, and help others with in their relationships as collapse unfolds and the dying begins in earnest here. In my opinion, John Gottman and Susan Johnson have done for relationships what Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell, and Albert Einstein did for physics. We now have a deep understanding of how relationships work, of what does and does not make them work well or badly. If someone finds that just telling people to love each other works effectively and reliably, because we find our world collapsing and ourselves in hospice, great! I have not had that experience, by a long shot, and I want to learn about what works much better based on the best possible empirical research.

  • Those unacquainted with the profundity of the traditions of non-attachment, the originof which are lost in the dim mists of prehistory, can be expected to promote their preferred forms of attachment and relationships. That’s all that’s available to them.

  • Ever since we got the wherewithal to sit around the campfire and shoot the shit, we learned to love narrative more than reality. Those campfire flames now engulf the whole planet, and still we focus our attentions on the narrative. The flame has become a pixel in the dark night. Words are the wind that sustain our flights of fancy, but in the end, only unending hunger remains. While our hunger for food has always been sated, we are endlessly hungry for dreams that express our hopes. The hungry narrative is hope larger than life, the hungry tummy is hope smaller than life. Only love remains, until the mind is starved of hope and the tummy starved for food. That’s why you will never see a “Sustainability Summit” called a “Survival Summit”.

  • Globe? Warm? Who, Me?

    Another day in the hologram/idiocracy.

  • Good morning everyone.


    “These are not coastal dead zones, like the one that sprawls across the Gulf of Mexico, but great swaths of deep water that can reach thousands of miles offshore. Already naturally low in oxygen, these regions keep growing, spreading horizontally and vertically. Included are vast portions of the eastern Pacific, almost all of the Bay of Bengal, and an area of the Atlantic off West Africa as broad as the United States.”

    Unconfirmed Reports of Giant, 1 Kilometer, Methane Crater Found in Siberia

    “We have just learnt that in Yakutia, new information has emerged about a giant crater one kilometre (0.6 miles) in diameter,” the deputy director of the Oil and Gas Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vasily Bogoyavlensky, told AFP.

    [further down the essay]

    The new crater is said to be located in a region of Yakutia, which is a Siberian province many hundreds of miles east of the Yamal Crater. Yakutia hosts some of the densest permafrost deposits in the Arctic. It has also experienced extraordinarily rapid warming similar to the Yamal increase of 2 degrees Celsius in just 14 years. Over coming years, the pace of warming is predicted to be equally rapid. Climate models for the region indicate as much as 8 degrees Celsius warming through the end of this Century. The result is that we see Yakutia, as much of Siberia, in a state of very rapid and destabilizing climate change.

    Stresses to permafrost due to this raging rate of warming are extraordinary and involve not only permafrost melt and subsidence but also horrific wildfires that individually burn hundreds of square miles. These enormous wildfires are not normal, garden variety infernos. They often alter the weather, forming enormous fire thunderstorms overhead. They have been reported to burn so hot as to ignite the soil itself, incinerating everything to at least three feet of depth. Near surface methane pockets also likely become involved in these fires and the peat-like structure of the permafrost, once thawed, can result in continued basement smoldering long after the surface fire is extinguished.

  • All,

    If you like human interest tales, brilliant creative writing, unsung heroes, out-of-the-way, seemingly impossible and highly unusual off-beat stories, then u will like this link to a portion of a program that is broadcast on radio through the net, which is not going to last much longer as we all know, each Saturday from Boston, Mass. called, “It’s Only A Game”. (How’s that for a messed up sentence!!!!)

    Enjoy something worthwhile in this culture while we can.

  • Bob S.:
    “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” contains some wonderful sentiments; the question, however, is how to REALIZE them. For some time I have believed that only through societal SYSTEM change of the right sort could (a) they be realized, while (b) “saving” us from extinction. (I express some of my ideas in this: .) HAD an effort to do so been made 30 – 40 years ago, both objectives might have been achieved. Now, however, it appears to be too late. (:

  • There is an interactive video about accelerating methane release from eleugga at today’s Robert Scribbler.

    It is about 50 posts down under eleugga/comments.

    I tried to copy & post it but it won’t go through here.

  • all,

    Reading a wonderful book this morning: “The Wolf in the Parlor” by Jon Franklin. Chapter 8. pp. 156-160.

    Mr Franklin is writing about the effect dogs have on people. He says: “Dogs are a vortex of a powerful emotional force that bubbles up out of its ancient wellsprings and engulfs not just the dog but the dog’s people.”

    Franklin’s wife and he had taken their ‘singing poodle’ (a wonderful tale in itself) to a psychiatric ward In Corvallis, Oregon around Christmastime (as an aside he adds this truth: “Christmas, legendary throughout the Western World for its wretched effects of mental Patients.”)

    Then, “The singing poodle (Charlie)only needed 5 minutes to warm up the place and bring individuals out of their protective shells.” He says: “I’d read about this effect in the literature, but scientific literature didn’t hold a candle to the real thing. There was no pain in the literature, and no giggling, either. Literature was emotionless, while the reality was emotion incarnate, perfectly pitched and more powerful than I ever could have imagined.”

    Beautiful, loving, musical words to my ears.

    I have three lovers, my wife, and my ‘Jack’ and ‘Jill’, Jack Russells.

  • ‘He says: “I’d read about this effect in the literature, but scientific literature didn’t hold a candle to the real thing.”‘

    Scientific “literature” is the real thing.

    Indeed, science is trying to help us all understand the real thing.

    Max Planck’s words about his desperate frustrations to explain his own discovery of the quantum are not literature?

    Isn’t this some “real thing.”

    Great methane graphics from the European Space Agency –

  • Vengeance

    All the oppressors you knew,
    And whose torment you had to live through,
    And who filled you with dread—
    Well, soon they’ll be dead!
    (OTOH, you’ll be dead too.)

  • I learned everything from BTD.






  • Bud Nye,

    When Guy says that “only love remains” he’s not thinking solely about love (any kind of love) between humans.

    He’s talking about love for this Earth of ours and beyond:
    all the living beings, the sea, the mountains, the sky above, the planets and stars, the sun the moon. In fact everything that your senses present to you, and maybe even beyond… That depends on your perception, your attention and your awareness. But you need to abandon yourself to that.It needs passion and practice.
    I have a feeling that your closing yourself off- or maybe you can’t open up?

    This is something you can only feel, your intellect will not guide you there.
    For your sake, I hope you know what I’m trying to say here and not just file it under “romantic notions”.

    As Alton rightly states, there’s not much time left. You better get your skates on.

  • We had a similarly-infuriating confab in my neck of the woods recently. I was sorely tempted to attend and ask pointed and challenging questions, but I figured it would only end up making me and everyone else feel bad without changing anything…

    Behold the crazy:

    Creating Prosperity and Opportunity Confronting Climate Change

    Breakout Sessions:

    Marketing Vermont as the Innovative Climate Economy Destination (!)

    Advancing Community-Based Climate Action

    Promoting a Vision for Transportation Renewal (does not include horses or walking, N.B.)

    Innovating for Renewal, Recycling and Resource Limits This was hosted by the local waste-hauling monopoly, who got to write? or anyway horn in on the composting/deviation of organic waste from landfill law.. so now all the kitchen scraps are trucked to various centralized locations in the state.. because OMGJAHBZ you can’t have people not trucking things!

    Developing Ubiquitous Distributed Energy I love this: ubiquity is one of the required ‘proven’ qualities of a Saint in the RCC.

    Improving Education, Workforce Development, and Youth Entrepreneurship

    Strengthening Farm & Forest Carbon Sequestration and Profitability

    Seeding a Vermont Climate Investment Strategy

    Spurring Research and Development for New Technologies in Vermont

    Supporting Smart Growth, Reuse, Preservation, & Downtown Redevelopment

    Coordinating State Governmental Policies & Regulations

    Advancing Next Stage in Efficiency & Conservation

    Adapting Outdoor Recreation & Tourism (!! .. Come see the last standing tree in the lower 48! “Ol’ Punky”!)

  • @Al.. it’s a fucking Coca-Cola commercial.

  • I’d like to give the world a hug
    And tell it jokes and stuff
    And pull its pants down to its knees
    And chase it through the rough

    Then tie it up with bonds and straps
    And search its purse for change
    Then leave it out at Moose Grin Hall
    With our cousin who’s deranged …
    — National Lampoon

  • Here’s where they coined the phrase, it was pretty much a top down affair all the way it seems. The effect seemed to be to give them free reign to carry on as rampantly as possible, with a little extra “green space”, just needed to use the little blessing words whenever possible..

    Formally known as the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), the Brundtland Commission’s mission is to unite countries to pursue sustainable development together. The Chairman of the Commission, Gro Harlem Brundtland, was appointed by Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, former Secretary General of the United Nations, in December 1983. At the time, the UN General Assembly realized that there was a heavy deterioration of the human environment and natural resources. To rally countries to work and pursue sustainable development together, the UN decided to establish the Brundtland Commission. Gro Harlem Brundtland was the former Prime Minister of Norway and was chosen due to her strong background in the sciences and public health. The Brundtland Commission officially dissolved in December 1987 after releasing Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report, in October 1987, a document which coined, and defined the meaning of the term “Sustainable Development”.

  • “free reign” ( free rein? ) maybe unintentional double entendre?

  • Stefan mentioned the Otaki Transition Town group, and that ‘nature bats last’, which prompted me the write in with this comment, which they read out

    “Nature can take up to 10,000 years to catch up with climate change
    Near term human extinction could be years away, not decades
    Yes nature bays last.
    Stefan Sobkowiak: recreating Eden ( 33′ 49″ )
    08:30 Canadian biologist and landscape architect who has been running an organic, then permaculture orchard business since 1993. He is travelling throughout New Zealand on the Beyond Organic tour of talks and workshops.

  • @ Paul Chefurka Says:
    March 14th, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Thank you for the giggles, Paul! 🙂 If there’s more, would you please provide a link? TIA.

  • @Bob S.

    Thanks for posting the great video. A great song and brought back many happy memories from that time. If only we could get all the CO2 vomited into the atmosphere back to 1972 levels! It if we could (which we can’t) it still might have been too late even then. Sigh….

  • Bad typo… “Even if we could (which we can’t)it still might have been too late, even then.” Is what I meant. 🙂

  • Sabine,

    Apparently you have not read the things I have written extending attachment theory to other species and Earth, and emphasizing the importance of emotion. Both Gottman and Johnson focus intensely on EMOTION. What can I say? Read what I have written? Or, much better yet, read Gottman and Johnson and make your own connections to all relationships, including those with other species and Earth? (Neither Gottman nor Johnson relate their work to other species and Earth as I have tried to do.) Perhaps it would help if I wrote in all-caps? ;-)(Just kidding—and no sarcasm intended!)

  • Bud, can you quit busting our balls, please, with “Gottman and Johnson”? They are just obnoxious tools in the same god-damned mechanism of faux-sickness faith healers, chewing the same verbose cud over and over.

    There is nothing to be gained by wallowing in EMOTION. If people give themselves over to EMOTION, they will end up sniveling lumps of paralysed flesh to a greater degree than is already the case.

    There’s a REASON people bury their noses in video games and resort to drugs, both street drugs and those increasingly officially prescribed. Because EMOTIONS, these days, are a liability. There’s a very good reason people detach. There is a healthful aspect to it, protecting the psyche.

    I really don’t see the point in sifting through and obsessively massaging hackneyed self-help directives about “adjustment”. There is no “adjusting” to human extinction in the conventional sense.

    There is no value anymore (if there ever was) in “attachment”. Forcing “attachment” onto organisms and processes which never really were set up with that mechanism in mind is foolish, to my mind. It’s a pernicious fiction.

    Lately, as I go through the world, I find my personal interactions enhanced, in fact, by DEtachment. I can be vastly more kind and supportive when I am NOT “attached”, I find.

  • Thanks to the folks who took time to respond to the video I posted. But in all honesty I didn’t post it to show how things could have been or could be if we would only fill the world with love.

    Gag me with a fuckin spoon – it’s a GD Coke commercial!! It was my reply to the coffee spitting post preceding it where a poster compared two $29.95 self-help guru’s with Issac Newton and Albert Einstein !!

    To imply that humans can know love – or what makes *love* *work* in *relationships* is just incredible hubris backed up by lots of hugging, back patting and crying. A $29.95 Tony Robbins boost.

    We know the answers. We’ve had the answers for centuries. We know what to do. Now if we could only figure out how to do.

  • Attachment is manifest in attraction and averson. Detachment is manifest in indiffererce and disregard. The equanimity of non-attachment is buffeted neither by elation nor by dejection, and it not in the domain of indifference or disregard. Those schooled along “western” religious lines often have a tough time grasping this.

  • Thanks to David Higham for the great summary of what is devastating w industrial “agriculture”..too bad the media keeps people in ignorance

  • That Vice Video is great,but it could all be condensed into the part where the scientist says when 2 of the glaciers on the West Antarctic ice sheet goes there will be a one meter rise of Ocean waters and this will entrain a further 3 meter rise and that cutting carbon will not help…too late…in the video around 21 minutes

  • I’ve posted a work of fiction, the first contribution in this space penned by Duncan Charles Mason. Catch it here.


    Posted on March 15, 2015 by Eric Zuesse.
    A check at the Russian Ministry of Defense says nothing, as of yet, about the following allegations that are made by the sources cited in the following tentative story, which sources are now spreading like wildfire on the Internet, but this possible news-item is written under the assumption that the story is as it has been reported in those sources:

    Surprise UK Nuclear Attack Against Russia This Week Is Averted by Intelligence Leak

    Russia Now on Top Nuclear Alert and ‘State of War’ with at Least UK, Maybe Also U.S.

    The European Union Times reported Sunday morning March 15th, under the headline, “Russia Warns ‘State Of War’ Exists As UK Nukes Prepare First Strike,” that Russian intelligence — specifically the FSB (Federal Security Service) and Kaspersky Lab — fortunately had decoded the launching data and coordinates of all the UK’s nuclear weapons, and thereby caught and prepared for a planned first-strike nuclear attack by the UK against Russian targets, which is set to occur at some time this week.

    [more @ link]

    original source =

  • Eu times:

    European Union Times:

    The European Union Times claims to be a news site. Its articles on Barack Obama have been linked from a few Libertarian Tea Party blogs, presumably pleased to find what is apparently a news site that supports some of their views. It even has lots of mainstream advertising served by ContextWeb! Eminently respectable to all appearances.
    Upon closer inspection, however, it is little more than a compiler and regurgitator of various news stories and a particularly unpleasant far-right-leaning blog. The reporting is, without exception, shockingly unprofessional. Do not be fooled by the nice WordPress theme — this is utter neo-Nazi bollocks.

  • Chris Martenson’s latest newsletter, dated Mar 13, discusses the current buildup of anti-Russian sentiment in the US, reminiscent of the 2002 buildup to the Iraqi War. Eerily similar. “Is it time to prepare for war?”

  • It was the coldest Winter in memory here in Cleveland. I would believe an ice age is coming versus this global warming hype. There is no chance of extinction via global warming anytime soon. I would bet on it.